The Palm Beach Story


Joel McCrea, Claudette Colbert, Rudy Vallee, Mary Astor,

The rags-to-riches road detours in Preston Sturges’s films expose the deleterious mental effects of idle wealth. In The Palm Beach Story, Sturges pits the billionaire Hackensacker family—Rudy Vallee; his sister, Mary Astor; and her pet beau, Toto, a Latin lover from some undesignated land who speaks a peculiar Sturges gibberish—against the wits of those who, with fine-tuned brains, must connive for a living. Claudette Colbert is rather more inventive than her impoverished inventor husband, Joel McCrea, in announcing, “I’m a milestone around your neck” and leaving him for a more financially hearty companion. In Sturges’s fractured fairy tale, Colbert’s fairy godfather is a hot dog maven who calls himself “The Wienie King,” and her seven dwarfs take the form of the hallucinatory Ale and Quail Club. For Sturges, that most American of cynics, who was himself raised with money, the American Dream inspired this kind of madness, and it is, indeed, inspired madness.

—Judy Bloch

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  • Preston Sturges
  • Victor Milner
Print Info
  • B&W
  • 35mm
  • 90 mins
  • Universal Pictures